Coal Ministry allocating mine voids to TPPs for fly ash disposal

The Ministry of Coal said that it is actively working to ensure proper disposal and repurposing of fly ash generated by thermal power plants
Coal Ministry allocating mine voids to TPPs for fly ash disposalPSU Watch (Image for representation only)

New Delhi: The Ministry of Coal (MoC) said that it is actively working to ensure proper disposal and repurposing of fly ash generated by thermal power plants by allocating mine voids for this purpose. “By disposing this byproduct of coal-based power generation, the Ministry is leading the charge towards a sustainable future, prioritising environmental well-being and fostering a circular economy,” said the Coal Ministry in a statement. Extensive research and development have enabled the effective use of fly ash for filling voids and as a component in construction materials. This not only reduces its environmental footprint but also supports sustainable development practices, said the ministry.

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Coal Ministry has allocated 19 mine voids to 13 TPPs

“The Ministry of Coal has undertaken a significant initiative to ensure the proper disposal of fly ash by allocating mine voids for this purpose. A Central-level Working Group (CLWG) under the chairmanship of Additional Secretary, Ministry of Coal was formed in 2023 for the same,” said the Coal Ministry.

The interested Thermal Power Plants (TPPs) submit an application to the Central Electricity Authority (CEA) for the allocation of mine voids, which is eventually discussed in the CLWG meeting. “In this proactive move, a total of 19 mines have been allocated to 13 TPPs. This allocation addresses environmental concerns associated with fly ash disposal and promotes sustainable practices within the coal mining sector. Additionally, approximately 20.39 lakh tonnes of fly ash have been repurposed to date at Gorbicoal mine pit-1,” said the Coal Ministry.

Fly ash from thermal power plants

As per the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change notification dated November 3, 2009, the term “fly ash” means and includes all ash generated, such as Electrostatic Precipitator (ESP) ash, dry fly ash, bottom ash, pond ash and mound ash. Its composition, rich in silicon dioxide (SiO2), calcium oxide (CaO), and aluminum oxide (Al2O3), makes it valuable for various applications, transforming potential waste into useful material. Effective management promotes its use in construction activities, thereby minimising waste, conserving natural resources, and reducing the carbon footprint.

Coal Ministry creating portal to manage applications from TPPs for mine voids

The Ministry of Coal, in collaboration with the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), is in the process of creating a centralised portal to manage the application process for the allocation of mine voids to Thermal Power Plants for fly ash backfilling activities. This portal aims to streamline operations and ensure transparency and efficiency.

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Comprehensive feasibility studies are being conducted to explore the optimal methods for mixing fly ash with overburden in operational mines. Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) have been established to guide the safe and efficient use of fly ash, addressing both safety and administrative considerations, said the Coal Ministry. A significant feasibility study is underway at the Nigahi operational mine in collaboration with the Central Institute of Mining and Fuel Research (CIMFR). This study aims to determine the optimal percentage of fly ash to be mixed with overburden, with results expected soon, said the Coal Ministry.

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